Should ballerinas be slender and svelte? Well these ones aren’t and they look nice and elegant to me!
I had a trial pack of Stonehenge Aqua watercolour paper lying about and recently got round to painting on them using my preferred medium for each paper type.
The pack, which seems to be a special Jackson’s offering, contains a 140lb hot press sheet, a 140lb cold press, a 275lb hot press and a 300lb cold press. They are 100% cotton and come in sheets or blocks. I was mostly interested in how the heavier papers behaved with acrylics as I’m quite happy with the 140lb cold and hot press paper I usually use (Arches or Daler Rowney Prestige).
The medium I was using for each weight and finish are:
140lb/300gsm hot press – watercolour
140lb/300gsm cold press – casein
275lb/550gsm hot press – acrylic
300lb/600gsm cold press – acrylic and acrylic ink
The sheets are 7*5 inches (hence the thickset figures – I wanted to use as much space as possible!) and have the most annoyingly placed stamp on the front side – why couldn’t they stamp it on the back?!
140lb/300gsm hot press Stonehenge Aqua
This, the only actual watercolour, turned into a muddy mess. It didn’t start off well, the paper tore (see the top left side) when I took off the tape which held the sketch in place as it was transferred to the watercolour paper.
I like to stretch hot press paper properly, soaking it in a tub and then taping it down flat. I would probably have had a better time with this paper if I’d done that. As it was the paint seemed to just sit on top and I didn’t feel that I had much control.
The painting wasn’t a great success but I love the colours and will probably do a larger version of this.
140lb/300gsm cold press
I never have much success using watercolour paint on cold press, the texture doesn’t seem to work with my style. Cold press I keep for casein or acrylics.
This Stonehenge cold press paper behaved as I would expect with the casein: as well as any other I’ve tried.
Her light blue dress is mostly titanium white and pthalo blue. Every time I use casein pthalo blue I’m reminded that I need to get another green blue, the casein pthalo is so staining. It stays on the brush for ever, never seeming to wash out completely, and ends up muddying any colour you want to pick up afterwards.
275lb/550gsm hot press
This 275lb hot press paper was a delight to paint on with acrylics. The paint went down smoothly without a struggle and I felt very much in control.
I painted straight onto the paper without gesso or anything, it was quite absorbent. The painted surface had a lovely satin sheen which sadly doesn’t show up in the scan.
Stonehenge only offers this weight in sheets. I find cutting up sheets rather tiresome but I’m sure I’ll be buying this paper sometime soon.
And isn’t raspberry and light green a lovely combination?
300lb/600gsm cold press
One nice feature of heavier weight papers is they don’t buckle much at all when you apply a watery wash to them as I did with the yellow acrylic ink.
And a nice feature, I find, of textured paper is you’re less likely to get those nasty, impossible to soften, hard edges you sometimes get (if you’re not paying attention!) when using acrylic inks on smooth paper.
But the buckling isn’t too big a deal for me on 140lb and the texture works just as well at that weight so there’s no reason for me to get this weight of paper for acrylic inks. The heavy body acrylic I used on the figure went down nicely enough but not so nicely that I’d swap my usual watercolour papers.
The Stonehenge Aqua range is very reasonably priced, the 140lb/300gsm sheets are cheaper than the popular Arches versions of that weight and the 275lb /550gsm compares well in price to the various 640gsm sheets (I couldn’t find any others at 550/600gsm). However the only one I’m likely to get again is the 275lb hot press, the others didn’t offer anything particularly special.
I enjoyed painting the stocky ballerinas and will paint a few (if not all!) of them again. Perhaps I’ll make a series of it, with multi-coloured ballerinas in different poses.
Update: I did finally do her again, just the once so far: That Ballerina